Meet Stephen Clemmet, founder of Atom Electronics Ltd, who started working from the space at the tail end of 2016. An open, friendly guy, with a keen eye for electronics and a strong pair of sea legs!
If you provide open source services, how does the business make money?
Through selling the boards; the boards are the product. We can explain how the boards work, but you can't copy them as we've designed in-product technology that stops people copying them.
And how do the boards help engineers with prototyping?
They are an open chassis board about the size of a mobile phone and you can plug various things into it (a screen, or a Bluetooth module for example) to build up your prototype knowing you have a solid foundation for your product. It de-risks the process for the customer. It's similar to the motherboard inside a computer, or even a Raspberry Pi, but focussing for professionals who want to develop products. It's very versatile, and the sky is the limit in what you can do but because it’s that wide and diverse, we've decided to focus on an application, driving mainly towards IoT.
What are the differences in the boards you provide?
Rutherfordium (element named after the Cambridge physicist Ernest Rutherford) is based on the ARM Cortex M0 and Einsteinium is based on the ARM Cortex M4. We’ve just taken delivery of Hydrogen, our debug board. This connects the other boards to a PC.
Would there be any other applications besides prototyping?
Well, I've been out and about for the last couple of months speaking to a lot of people including distributors, and what we've found is that the users of existing similar platforms, the market is about 55% industry professionals, 10% hobbyists and the remaining 35% are academics. Another figure is that around half all engineers use open source; around 25% of the market for these kinds of platforms is our target. Beside prototyping, some people use platforms as final product components and other for learning about electronics and programming ARM core devices.
How will you combat "fear of the unknown" with customers who may migrate from something like the Raspberry Pi?
Atom is designed to be an evolutionary step from existing platforms. You can use all your favourite IDEs for programming and all your favourite forums for support, so it will ensure an easy, smooth transition on to our products. In our modern world, people want an easy ride. Our mission is to deliver smart products that do just that.
What do you enjoy most about working at Eagle Labs?
I like the open friendly environment. It's a nice easy place to come in, sit down and do some work.
If you could ask one person, one question and get a completely honest answer, who would it be and what would you ask?
Maurice Wilson. I recently read a book about Reinhold Messner, and the forward was a brilliantly written piece about this nutter Maurice Wilson. He went missing at the end of The Great War and when he turned up, was asked where he'd been? His reply "I've been to find myself, and I've found God who told me to climb Qomolangma (Mount Everest)"... with no training whatsoever of course! He'd been up Snowden a couple of times, bought a plane, called it "Ever Wrest" and ran out of fuel mid-trip. The plan was to crash-land the plane somewhere near the top and then walk the rest. This was after the plan to simply parachute down onto the top. Said plan was shelved for lack of a willing pilot. After losing the plane he disguised himself as a deaf and dumb monk and hid in a monastery in the foothills of Everest to avoid the authorities After a couple of failed attempts and succumbing to illness, on his third attempt at climbing Everest he died. My question to him: What on earth possessed you to think that this was good idea?
If heaven exists, what would it be for you?
It would include being able to windsurf to amazing tricks in beautiful and tropical surroundings... which is something we don't get in this country.
Finally, do you have any Secret Agent skills?
I drive a powerboat, which I use to do safety volunteering at Grafham Water. I also sail a Hobie16 catamaran: ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’.